Call me crazy, but I have more faith in the couple above making positive changes in our country than the buffoonery of our political system…
Scott and Stephanie won’t serve you up a bunch of political nonsense, false promises, and lies, but they will make you, your family, and the community healthier and stronger. Tucked into the mountains of Western North Carolina, they run Stoney Hollow Farm just outside Robbinsville, NC – http://www.stoneyhollowfarm.org/
Along with their kids, they raise a variety of non-GMO, organic fruits and vegetables for their farm store, u-pick, wholesale customers, and CSA program.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community-supported_agriculture)
“I thought this post was about politics”
It is, read on to see how supporting local growers change the nature of our country..
- Your food doesn’t have to travel across the country or from overseas, thereby reducing the amount of fuel, pollution, and packaging associated with transportation
- Most local growers follow more sustainable farming practices than the large monocrop model, therefore reducing pesticide and fertilizer use. Obviously that reduces pollution from those products, but it also has a trickle down effect on the production, transportation, and economics of that industry.
- Buying local has a positive effect on the community by keeping money in that area http://content.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1903632,00.html
- Buying local builds good bonds and friendships, thereby strengthening the community
- Supporting non-GMO and organic growers sends a monetary message that we don’t want all that crap in our food. Consumer demand can make or break products.
- Healthier eating habits leads to healthier people. Healthier people = healthier country
I got to chat with Scott and his family about the farm, it’s history, and their goals.
In 1998, Scott sold his floor cleaning business and bought 150 acres outside Robbinsnville, cleared 10 acres of it, and started a fruit and produce farm. The crazy part of that story is that Scott didn’t grow up farming, he learned most of his knowledge from books and the school of hard knocks. A bold, life changing move like that takes guts, so I asked Scott his advice about the fear that can hold us back from taking big chances..
“You just have to go for it. And you can always go back if you are careful not to burn bridges”
Simple enough, but sometimes the simple things in life are taken for granted. Daily swims and eating every meal together keeps this family strong under the immense workload of the busy season.
Stephanie came from a banking background, but her love of jam making brought her to Stoney Hollow. Her goal of providing healthy food for her family has now grown much larger to include the community. Not only is Stephanie still making jams, but breads, pies, cookies, and a whole bunch of great tasting, healthy treats. Her side of the operation has now expanded to include baking, canning, and nutrition classes, focusing on food as part of a healing program.
A lot of u-pick farms sport only one type of fruit, while others grow only a handful of different veggies. Listening to customer demand, one of the hallmarks of Stoney Hollow is the diversity of fruits and vegetables. To see the what’s in season, visit the website, but here is what they typically grow:
- Raspberries – red & black
- Cherries – sweet & sour
- Sweet Potatoes
- Squash – summer & winter
- Brussels Sprouts
If you aren’t up for picking yourself, you can call, email, or Facebook message 24 hours in advance to pick up the next day. You can also stop in at the farm store for pre-picked produce, eggs, honey, and all the baked goods.
Being an outdoor educator, I have seen my fair share of kids that do not have strong ties to the land. A product of our times. the lack of skill transfer from generation to generation has been breeding a population that is dependent on others for basic human needs.
Scott and Stephanie’s children are definitely an exception to the current trend. Being home-schooled on the farm, they lead a healthy, active life that involves farm work and customer service. I see kids being kids, but also learning practical skills for life and and forging a super strong work ethic.
Emily, a master at customer service, says that her favorite part of living and working on the farm is the “educational aspects when visitors come from far way.” Landon, a professional weeder by trade, can identify more plants at five years old than most adults. He can also show you where the best berries are and doubles as security when he turns into the “One-Boot Bandit”..
I could keep raving on, but for the sake of brevity, I am going to summarize some other points:
- Scott is incorporates a plethora of sustainable practices including crop rotation, composting, green manures, cover crops, plastic mulch, seed saving, and organic pest control. Got a growing question during your visit, just ask.
- Integrated planting has helped with pest control, but birds, bears, and other critters get their share.
- 2017 CSA will open up for orders in December or January
- Wholesale orders are available. Tapoco and Snowbird Lodge are two of the local fine dining restaurants that take advantage of that program.
- Stoney Hollow had it’s first intern this year. More to follow.
- “Hold your grocer accountable.” If they advertise local produce, make sure they offer a good selection
- If you want to make Stoney Hollow a family getaway, there are several campsites nearby – Santeelah, Cheoah, Rattler Ford, etc. There is also whitewater rafting nearby, several lakes, and tons of hiking trails
- Future plans include more internships, kitchen workshops, grower’s workshops, expanding the orchard, and more forest farm products
- Scott is available as a consultant and is especially passionate about getting operations like his started in areas with higher population densities
When I asked Scott for a parting message, it wasn’t “come visit us” or “buy our produce”.
Instead, his unselfish message revolved around the food security issues our country faces as we lose diversity in our crops, import more food, and continue to lose skills of self-reliance. With almost two decades of professional farming experience, this humble grower wishes that everyone would grow a garden.
I can’t help but think that emphasizing a sustainable, healthy lifestyle centered around an independent food source while supporting the local community and transferring that knowledge to the next generation will make America greater than anything coming from the puppet show in D.C…
Vote with your money and find local growers in your area: http://www.pickyourown.org/index.htm#states